Michael Barone

This was, as Rove now admits, "a dagger aimed at (the) administration's heart." It tended to delegitimize the Iraq war and encouraged many Democrats to wish for their country's defeat. No wonder that as late as July 2009 only a handful of Democrats considered Iraq a war worth fighting.

Now that Barack Obama has been commander in chief for 18 months, Democrats are singing a different tune. They no longer have a psychological stake in believing that Bush's surge strategy failed, as Democrats like Harry Reid and Barack Obama insisted in 2007 and 2008. They are coming to grips with the reality that our mission in Iraq is succeeding, that a reasonably functional democracy is emerging and that there is no great peril in maintaining a military presence there.

At the same time, the dovish instincts that have been such a prominent part of Democrats' DNA since they recoiled from Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam War are apparent in their assessment of the war in Afghanistan. Barack Obama's decision last December, after a three-month review, to seek something like victory there is still supported by most Republican voters, but after negative developments many Democratic voters are turning against the president's policy. Increasingly, they regard Afghanistan as a Bad War.

Some Republican politicians are tempted to seek political gain from this. Thus Republican National Chairman Michael Steele on July 1 told Republican candidates they should call Afghanistan "Obama's war."

In some areas of life, turnabout is fair play. But not in war. Prominent Democrats may have been happy to delegitimize the Iraq war, but that's not a good reason for Republicans to do something similar on Afghanistan. Rooting for your country's defeat is ignoble. More importantly, when it comes your turn to take responsibility, it can be self-defeating.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM